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Everything posted by sazji

  1. I wonder if it's Field Garlic (allium vineale) that you're thinking of. I hear it's incredibly strong stuff that grazing cows are quite fond of. Garlic flavored milk with your cereal, perhaps? ← Allium has lots and lots of species; the edible onion, leek, garlic and shallots are just a couple examples. But you can overharvest wild bulbs; the tassel hyacinth is harvested heavily in Greece, where it is made into an very bitter pickle, and has nearly disappeared from many areas where it was once common. The Kurds in eastern Turkey use a wild allium species (which I've never seen fresh) to make an intensely garlicky/oniony flavored cheese that shows up at pretty much every meal. Celeriac would have to be high on my list of half-forgotten vegetables. It's used a lot here in many different ways, my favorite being the "olive oil" version, served cold. Yummmmmmmm. Interesting that one reader wrote that he could find cardoons at a local Turkish market; I've never seen them offered in any market here, but would love to. In Persian they are called "kangar," but the word "kenger" in Turkish refers to a different thistle-like plant, which they dig and harvest a white gum from the roots. It's Anatolian chewing gum. Loquats - wonderful if you can get good ones; they are among the first fruits of spring/summer here. Lots of them seem to come out watery and tasteless. My tree back in Seattle never fruited. You can make a very good Amaretto-like liquer from the seeds (dry them for a couple weeks in the sun, then soak in alcohol for a couple months with a strip of lemon peel, strain, sweeten with 2/1 sugar syrup and then let it sit and mellow for a long time, because before it mellows, it smells a bit like paint thinner... But after a year it is really nice.
  2. Doritos has come out with some nice things for the Turkish market. There is a white(feta) cheese with nigella flavored one, as well as a tomato and poppyseed one that is very good.
  3. Still, making circles of bread or other dough (like cookies) seems to be something that could just as easily have developed independently. They make bread sticks in many parts of Europe, making them into a circle seems a logical thing to do. Makes 'em easier to carry when you're selling them (they are often carried on a stick).
  4. I live here, check your personal messages for contact info. Now, to keep the thread sort of on subject , two more things you should try when you are here are Boza (a fermented millet drink that is much better than itsounds!) and sahlep, a drink made with ground orchid root and milk. Both are winter specialties that disappear around the end of April.
  5. Glad to be of help! If you ever want a dining partner or bazaar company, let me know!
  6. sazji

    Sacher Torte

    I would have to put in yet another "thumbs down" for sachertorte. Someone told me it was made with incredibly high amounts of sugar and dry so that it could be sent without spoiling. I found it dry, flavorless and way too sweet. Actually I had lots of pastry that just didn't do it for me, both in Vienna and in Innsbruck. Oh well..
  7. First (what a horrible subject to start with but anyway...) Overall food is well prepared and clean here, but some tourists get a case of "The Gurgles." It can happen anywhere, so the best is to just enjoy yourself, don't be too worried about it, and have a packet of anti-food poisoning medicine handy. It doesn't happen very much but if it does it can be a bummer. Pharmacies sell something called "Ercefuryl" that is not an actual antibiotic, it's cheap, and generally clears it up quickly. Try one of the Anatolian places; my favorite is "Hala" There is also one on Büyükparmakkapı st, a few blocks down from Taksim on the left, follow it in past the "jog" and it will be on the left. You can try gözleme, manti and other Anatolian dishes. A couple restaurants not to be missed: Çiya in Kadiköy Sahre in Fındıkzade (on Millet Caddesi, just past the Yusufpaşa tram stop) Yeşil Edessa in Aksaray, near the Metro station. The first is an Antep place with many unusual dishes. The restaurant is in two parts, one that has kebab and pide, and the place across from it with home cooking. The second are kebab places that are a cut above the rest, really wonderful. Sahre is Antep style; Yeşil Edessa is more Urfa style. They bring lots of nice side dishes that you don't normally come across. Try büryan (lamb cooked in a tandır oven) in the market west of the Aqueduct - this market is frequented mostly by people from Siirt. Some of the nicest milk sweets/puddings are in Sütiş right by Taksim square as you enter İstiklal Caddesi. Try Turkish rice pudding, it's not like in the west. Also try Kazandibi, the pudding with chicken breast. For Ottoman cuisine, try Kanaat in Üsküdar. Take the boat there from Eminönü or Beşiktaş and ask anyone on the street. They have two sections, one for cold olive oil dishes and one for hot/meat dishes. Just point and drool, the waiters will take care of the rest. But forego the desserts there. For really good Baklava, try Güllüoğlu. There is one in Karaköy, across the Galata bridge from the old city. Another very good place is on Istiklal Caddesi on the right as you emerge from the Tunel station, about a block up. They specialize in baklava. For meze style eating, go to Nevizade Sokak (Balık Pazarı) in the fish market in Beyoğlu. My favorite restaurant there is Imroz, the last of the places still owned by a Greek. Beyoglu is getting to be pretty pricey but these places are still more or less affordable. Also try the stuffed mussels at the same market; the first place on the left as you enter off of Istiklal Caddesi is the best, the others tend to be mushy. Eat what you want, then the guys count the shells, divide by two, and tell your your bill. It's inexpensive and very good. The fried mussel sandwiches are good too. For fish, Kumkapι is good, there are lots of restaurants to choose from and prices are pretty decent. Just check the menu first and ask about prices. Samatya also has some good fish places. Wine and liquor can be very expensive because of high taxation, especially in restaurants, so be careful or you might get a narsty surprise when the bill comes! If you want a nice cup of coffee, and are in Sultanahmet, try Omar, near the cistern. Ask for the waiter Can (Jahn) and tell him Bob sent you. Their food is not bad, not overly cheap, but they have a very nice and different rice pudding with orange in it. There are some really nice fish restaurants in Anadolu Fener, at the northern mouth of the Bosphorus. But getting there is a bit of a hassle. Anadolu Kavak also has decent places but as it's the last stop on the Bosphorus ferry, it tends to be pretty touristed and busy. Another nice place for good coffee is Taksimetro, just up from the McDonalds on Taksim Square, before the west entrance to Taksim Park. Profiterol at Özsüt or Bolulu Hasan Efendi on Istiklal Caddesi. Lokum (Turkish delight) from Hacι Bekir). Avoid: Fish sandwiches by the Galata bridge. It's not local fish, it's cooked in old oil, and it's pretty awful. the Pudding Shop in Sultanahmet. eating at the "Point and Drools" (the places with big expanses of prepared food) at night; the food has generally been sitting there for a long time. But they can be decent and economical for an afternoon meal. Bambi and Selvi on Siraselviler Cad. as you head down from Taksim Square are pretty good. Stuffed mussels on the street. Almost anything else on the street is safe, and stuffed mussels usually are, but a case of seafood food poisoning is just not worth the risk... Feel free to write if you have any other questions bob
  8. Don't worry about avoiding eggplant, it's usually pretty easily identifiable; the only things I can think of where it's not obvious visually is eggplant salad, but it will have the word in it. Τurn on your Turkish encoding on your browser: The word is "Patlıcan" (pronounced "pat-luh-jan"). So anything that says "patlıcanlı" (with eggplant) is off limits. Allergy is "alerji" (Alerzhi). I'm allergic to eggplant: "Patlıcana karşı alerjim var." (Pat-luh-jan-a kar-shuh alerzhim var) Foods that have eggplant in them but not in the name are still usually pretty obvious. Karnıyarık is eggplant stuffed with meat, musakka and güveç have big hunks of it. There is also a meze called "şakşuka" (shakshuka) that has it. If you say "patlıcan mı" ("eggplant?") and get a negative answer you ought to be okay. It's not like vegetarians who ask "does it have meat in it" and find out it's full of chicken, or meat broth. Have a great and eggplant-free time!
  9. I may have posted about it before but want to mention it here: http://www.melengec.com/ This place was opened in April by the wife of a friend of mine from Tire in the Aegean region. The Aegean area is known for the widespread use of wild herbs, and this is the focus of Melengeç's dishes. The name Melengeç means "Terebinth," and one of their specialties is the shoots of this tree, gathered as they come out in the spring, and pickled. It's amazing. I went last night and they brought me a sampling of...just about everything. On the site, check the "Yemekler" link to see some food porn pictures.. The menu includes (with omissions of some plants I don't know English names for and some things that are fairly common): Terebıth pickle with lemon and olive oil Wild Chicory Wild Cabbage Wild Mustard Nettles Wild Chard Salt Brush Mixed greens Greenbriar Purslane Stuffed squash flowers Aegean style artichoke in olive oil black eyed peas in the pod eggplant salad with yogurt eggplant salad with grilled pepper puree salad çökelek cheese keshkek (a dish with whole hulled wheat and meat The place is not cheap, but the food is so good, and the location, in an old traditional house with a view down the Bosphorus, is wonderful. They are also very friendly and welcoming. The host, Nevin, speaks French but not much English. To get there, take a taxi (easiest) to Arnavutkoy and get off right at the "Iskele," the boat landing, across from the small square. The restaurant is at the back of the square on your right, across the street. I'll be doing an English translation of the website fairly soon, inshallah.
  10. They use the word "ser u pepik" (lit. "head and hooves" / Turkish, "kelle paça") to characterize the entire dish. As you say, the tripe is sewn around the filling. Here the food is a bit plainer; the stuffing was plain rice. I think tomatoes, meat and chickpeas would have made it better. Still, it is one of the favorite dishes here; many people eat it a couple times a week. But I have a feeling it wasn't cleaned as well as it might/could have been, because the innard/lamb smell was *really* strong, to the point where if I smelled my fingers (it's mostly eaten with the hands) I almost lost it. I've eaten lamb intestine soup, and of course kokorec, which I like when it's well made. Tripe is a bit difficult but this was really over the top! Much of the rural cooking is much plainer than that of the cities. Silopi has been a city for about 3 years, 10 years ago it was hardly even a large village, and most of the people here have come from other places. Our hosts are from villages the Sirnak area and only moved into the city during the fighting with the PKK when their village was burned. There is a new installment on the blog. Last night's dinner was amazing; grilled lamb, stuffed bulgur köfte, a dish with meat and green beans, a different take on red lentil soup, salad, "ser be dew" (a sort of fine bulgur mush topped with "kishk" and melted butter, which was wonderful), and bread made by slapping flat rounds of dough on the walls of a "tandir" oven. And Pepsi of course. Unfortunately I was right in the middle of a rather unpleasant intestinal bug (it would come on for the two best meals of the week). Tomorrow Leigh Ann and I are making a late Thanksgiving dinner, complete with fresh cranberries brought from Oregon. (The idea of sweet/sour with meat is pretty odd here, we'll see how it goes over.) They do make a pumpkin sweet here so I think they will like pumpkin pie.
  11. Or what posessed someone to decide to make it! Speaking of which, I'm visiting friends right now in the town of Silopi, about 10 km from the Iraqi border. It's a completely Kurdish area; I almost never hear Kurdish except when they are talking to me. My friend Leigh Ann from Oregon is here with me, and she is making a blog of the trip. There is a nice food bit in it so I'm posting the link here. We had what was probably the scariest meal of our lives... I'm not averse to organ meats, but this was a challenge. Intestines and tripe (not only honeycomb), stuffed with rice, and boiled till the rice is almost mushy. I remember women in Greece turning lamb intestines inside out to wash them before making Easter soup. What we had tasted - or at least smelled - like a stockyard where sheep had been doing their thing... The great dark glob in the middle is - or was - a sheep head, surrounded by feet. Boiled till jellylike. I never figured out quite where the single bone figured into the equation, but the white flat part protruding to the left is nose/septum cartilage. Crunchy! When our friend Selman fed her an eyeball, she was a pretty good sport, I had to decline but we smiled through the rest of it. Enjoy.... http://lahlahlahlah.blogspot.com/ <img src="http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b60/sazji/IMG_0267.jpg" alt="Image hosted by Photobucket.com">
  12. sazji

    Cooking snails

    So who here has actually cooked snails, starting out with live ones? I have a yard full of them, both common Helix species and Theba as well. I tried the large ones, did the disgorging (following a Greek method which involved washing them in salt water - yecch). They were easy to get out of the shells. But after simmering them for at least an hour, they were still producing slime, mostly from the mantle - a little roll just back from the head. Tried to wash it away, it just kept comin' and comin'! I have eaten the Cretan style snails fried in olive oil and lemon; they had a slight slickness but nothing I couldn't deal with; and I've enjoyed them cooked in wine/tomato/onion sauce, where they weren't slimy at all. So what am I doing wrong? bob
  13. Adam, the chicory flowers are blue. It's a very common "weed" even within Istanbul. The leaves lie flat on the ground till it comes up to bloom, then it's fairly branched with only very small leaves and lots of light blue flowers. And I just saw a bunch of wild chard today, growing alongside the sidewalk in Aksaray, one of the most cement-bound sections of the old city. Not being into ingesting hydrocarbons, I didn't rush to gather it...
  14. Ooh...blooh pooh. Hm. Well, now is *that* worth keeping şalgam down for? How much do you have to keep down, I wonder? By the way, şalgam is Turkish for "turnip;" I guess turnip must figure heavily in the recipe. Earlier on in the thread someone had asked about tavuk göğsü (don't know if that will display right...you can choose Turkish encoding if you're curious!). I've never seen it in the US; one issue I think is getting extremely fresh (as in killed that day) chickens. If it's not fresh enough, the breast doesn't separate easily into thin fibers, and what you get is thick pudding with strings of chicken meat in it, not the goal. I cheated once in the US by putting the chicken breast with some milk in a food processor... the taste was right, the texture was a little off. My mom, who was decidely unsure about the whole idea, ate about half of it in a sitting! Was at the Siirt pazari the other day, the fresh crop of dried figs are in now. Mostly what's available around the city is from Aydin, large and packed together, but they are selling small "mountain figs" (loose, pale tan and very good) from the east. Also got some very lovely honey from Van. New place to try: Melengeç (http://www.melengec.com/) that was recently opened by the wife of a friend of mine. The food centers around various wild greens of the Mediterranean. The most interesting is the one that gives the restaurant its name: melengeç, (also known as menengiç) which is the Turkish name for the Terebinth tree (Pistacia terebinthus). The new shoots are gathered in the spring and cooked with meat. I haven't tried it yet, never even knew it was edible, though I've eaten the fruits dried, roasted, as well as made into "coffee." The Antep place was wonderful, even though my friend got stuck in rain traffic and couldn't make it. Not the kind of variety of Çiya but some of the best kebab I've eaten - a yogurtlu kebab with a wonderful sauce of fresh tomatoes cooked with hot peppers rather than the rather thin stuff that shows up at lots of fairly decent restaurants. Unfortunately it's one of those middle-upscale places where the waiters all seem a bit too artificially formal. Still worth eating there though!
  15. I can think of many different things...my dad was a real "meat and potatoes" guy, my mom is Greek-american. Visits to the Greek relatives in North Carolina always involved foods that were unusual to most kids growing up in Iowa in the 60s...halvah, roasted chickpeas, baklava, tsoureki (sort of like challah but not dry and with more eggs and a bit sweeter and aromatic)... I think I was probably the only kid in my neighborhood whose mother regularly made yogurt. Grossed out several friends with it. The first time I ever tasted broiled lobster - I was in third grade - was memorable. My first piece of cheesecake too. I remember seeing the word "cheesecake" in some children's book, and being captivated by the idea...! It was interesting that it tasted pretty much like I imagined it would. When I was still in Elementary school, my Grandfather came to stay with us. He liked Chinese food. Up till then, I had never gone to a Chinese restaurant; Chinese food meant La Choy chop suey over those greasy crunchy noodles. We would go to a place called the "Ming Garden." Rather typical Cantonese stuff though not bad considering where and when we were. I don't think we ever did it "family style," everyone just got their dish. I always got the brilliant red sweet and sour pork. It was fascinating. My first job, about 5 years later, was as a busboy at that same restaurant. I was fascinated as I watched a school friend whose uncle owned the place stringing snow peas. There was a choice of 10 or so things we could order for our employee meal; anything else we could get if we paid half price for it. Ordering a dish that cost me 3 dollars was a lot when I was only working one day a week and got 1.65 per hour, but I suppose I was already headed towards foodieism because I forked it out several times to try different things. Luckily my best friend was Chinese and I got to try much more exotic things at his house just about any day of the week! Living in Greece in 1976 and then again in the 1980s -- and then returning to the midwest -- was probably the real thing that spurred me to get curious about how to make more interesting food. Bread was the first thing I really missed from there. (Now when I go back to the US it's plentiful and inexpensive really fresh vegetables and fruits.) I had lived in Seattle for several years and rarely visited Chinatown, until I became involved in playing Cambodian music and our group would frequently go to Vietnamese Pho restaurants after performances. Suddenly Chinatown became a once-a-week stop... I think foodieism just sorta creeps up on you!
  16. Red helva? I haven't seen that one. There are some brown ones - "helva" is a catch-all term for a very wide variety of things that have just about one thing in common: they are sweet, they are boiled in a pot, they are poured out, and are eventually sliced, usually. The familiar thing we know as halvah is tahin helvasi (tahini halvah). Some are really good, especially if you buy from the bulk blocks rather than the pre-packaged ones. But in Turkey you can find a cheap imitation of very nearly everything... Most of the other kinds are made with flour, semolina of various grades, and wheatstarch, which is first browned (or just lightly sauteed) in butter, then mixed with a sugar and liquid mixture (usually with water but sometimes with milk). A good flour halvah, made with grape molasses, is really nice, and so is the "yaz helvasi" ("summer halvah," which seemt to be available all year around) made with a very fine grade of semolina, full of wanuts, and sometimes with cocoa added as well. Next time you come let me know, and I'll tell you what to avoid...
  17. There is a "Semen Büfe" in my neighborhood....
  18. Ah, I forgot to mention the Turkish Chocolate Axiom: The proportion of flavorlessness of a chocolate dish in Turkey is directly proportionate to the darkness and richness of its appearance. One of the most famous examples is the profiterol at Inci, which people go into ecstasy just talking about. It tastes like dark bland wheat paste. (I'm sure it's riding on very old laurels.) Cheap cocoa and chocolate flavored goo are dark colored, I guess. The thing is, good chocolate is expensive, especially here, and most Turks simply cannot afford it. I've bought some decent bulk "bitter" which is semisweet actually, but almost every time the salesmen try to steer me to the chocolate flavored "drops." "That's what professionals use."
  19. I worked at a pizza restaurant many years ago, and we had a giant oven with five shelves that rotated in a "ferris wheel" arrangement. My upper arms hit the door so many times that I looked like a zebra too. And I also worked at a pet shop, so had complimentary scars from...lessee, parrot and cockatiel bites, iguana scratches, and a boa tooth that was actually imbedded in my finger. (Definitely my weirdest, though not my dumbest, injury.) Guess I'm lucky though, because my skin doesn't seem to hold a scar very well, I can't find any of them any more. My Japanese housemate who also worked at the pet store, was starting to look like an aerial photo of the Nazca lines... Mom cut off the tip of her finger once, while chopping almonds to make a rice and almond dish for the vegan student my father invited over for Thanksgiving dinner. She never found the piece, and was really feeling guilty that she had "tainted" the vegan nature of his meal... We all ate it though, so who knows, I could have gotten it!
  20. I was at the spice bazaar on the eve of Seker Bayrami! It is a zoo, isn't it... Who knows, I may have stepped on your foot! Anyway, I'm glad you had such a good (and delicious) time! The breads are good...though the average stuff you get in restaurants in Istanbul today is a far cry from what it used to be like before the inflation that drove the price of a Lahmacun from 150 lira to 350,000 in 10 years.... (They went to 1.5 million before they finally lopped off 8 zeroes...) But you probably had the good stuff elswhere. Good that you bought your spices outside the bazaar (toldja!). Sirince was also a good choice for the olive oil; the commercial stuff here is overall not all that good unless you pay an arm and a leg. Have to take issue on the güllaç, it is not wiggly! Just sorta limp. Still, you didn't miss a whole lot, and the pastry shop versions tend to be a little soggy anyway. Pomegranate molasses...someone in another forum mentioned eating sucuk (sujouk, soujouk) with pomegranate molasses. Tried it finally. Oh Jeezus... I may need to make an advance reservation at Chez Cardiac...
  21. Wow, two of the three foods that I absolutely cannot get down, right here in the same thread. (I'll let you guess the third!) Shalgam looks beautiful, it smells delicious, but a sip is almost enough to make me flash my hash. And I've tried it so many times. But wow, to pee (?) blue...I might have to learn to love it if for that reason alone! Yes, alas, Brenna doesn't like kokoreç. But we both love sütlaç. I stayed with her in 1996 for a couple months, and whoever went by Sütiş or the (unfortunately now defunct) Cennet Pastanesi in Elmadağ had as his/her duty to bring home sütlaç for whoever was there at the time. By the way, if you like Brenna's music and haven't seen it, make sure you get the film "Istanbul Hatirasi - Crossing the Bridge." She's featured beautifully in the film. Another couple restaurants worth a visit next time you're here are "Sahre" (Antep food) which is in the Haseki district (right near Yusufpasa - Aksaray) and Yeşil Edessa (Urfa-kebab) a block in from the Yusufpasa tram station. Both are excellent, and Sahre serves food similar to that of Çiya across the Bosphorus, for much less money. I'll do a post especially about it soon.
  22. Ah there are so many things I can't get in Istanbul... I go to Greece fairly regularly and even in the little town of Komotini, I can get lots of things now that Greece is EU. Top of the list is: Good coffee Parmesan cheese Fresh ginger Bacon (all available here but horrendously expensive -- bacon is 70 dollars a kilo or more if you can find it.) Not available here are: Sweet potatoes sweetened condensed milk (to put in my Vietnamese coffee!) corn syrup Non-anised raki (tsipouro, like grappa) Limes That said, there are things that my Greek friends always demand that are unavailable there: Good pastirma Marash and Urfa (Isot) Peppers Pepper paste Kaymak (clotted cream from buffalo milk) Pomegranate molasses Good lokum From the States, when friends come, it's: Brown sugar Unsweetened chocolate Good coffee (good coffee I'll take from any source!) Grits Pecans And for Turkish friends when I go to the US it's: Damn near everything!
  23. Here they generally make it with a little yogurt in it, and it's called "Patlıcan Salatası" (Eggplant salad), very similar to the one common in Greece; but in the southeast it Baba Gannuj, as we know it. I do the eggplants right on the gas burner of the stove. (Be sure to prick them a bit first!) It's a bit messy but not that bad, the outsides will burn and blister, and you will get that good smoky taste, which some people strangely enough find repulsive. (Not me...) A mild yogurt variety also serves as a bed on which to lay Adana kebab, and the resulting dish is known as "Ali Nazik."
  24. What is warka? I've seen several references to it. Yes people do make different sort of boreks/pide at home with a variety of fillings. The typical restaurant pide dough is basically like a bread dough with a bit of oil added (like a pizza dough), some of them are yeastless but that's variable.
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